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The ability to light a fire is essential, fire will keep you warm and provide the means to cook, clean, tool-making, sanitising water, signaling, and even keep away insects. Your choice of fire lighting gear is therefore essential to not just your survival, but your whole outdoor experience.
There are three core fire lighting options to choose from - matches, ferro rods or lighters. This blog post will address the benefits of the different types and how they compare against one another. Before we start, this article was written by Elvis - founder of Forest Fundamentals, so we might be slightly biased towards the benefits of ferro rods, although arguably justifiably so!
• Resistant to the elements: Unlike a lot of disposable lighters, most survival matches are waterproof and windproof. This is great for the harsh weather conditions where you probably need fire the most! However, my my own experience waterproof matches will burn very fast, so make sure you have your tinder ready!
• Simplicity: Unlike lighters, matches have no components or mechanics which makes them extremely dependable. Although, some cheaper matches can snap or not light properly.
• Strike anywhere: Many survival matches are designed to be lit in the environment, on a rock for example, which makes them extremely versatile.
• Resistant to the cold: Unlike lighters, which will not work in freezing temperatures as the fuel won’t flow through the lighter properly. Matches will ignite regardless of the external temperature.
• Which matches should I buy? If you choose to carry a pack of matches, survival matches are a must - look for anything which is branded as 'survival' and is water and windproof. The waterproof matches from UCO are great, you can view these here.
• Reusable: As lighters run on fuel, one lighter can provide enough flame for hundreds or even thousands of fires. They provide more fire lighting capability than even a large pack of matches. This is useful in a survival situation, where you want to avoid firelighters that might run out, such as, matches.
• One-handed use: Unlike matches, lighters are easily used with a single hand. This is useful when prepping the fire, often the other hand is needed to shield the fire from the elements.
• Waterproof: Unlike matches, lighters do not need to be stored in a case. Waterproof containers or boxes are not required, this cuts down on weight and space in your pack.
• Ease of use: If you have ever tried to light a match in the freezing cold, you know it is not easy! When your hands are numb and you can barely move, I always end up getting through a couple of matches before I can get the fire going. The simplicity of using a lighter offers makes fire lighting in the cold a lot easier!
• Resistant to the elements: Lighters do not require any outside source to ignite, like a match strip, for example. Striking anywhere matches have their limitations as they cannot be lit on wet or damp surfaces.
• Safe: Unlike matches, lighters will never spontaneously combust. Matches are known to sometimes spontaneously ignite off one another on the move.
• What lighter should I buy? The lighter range is huge, any lighter will get the job done! Though, if your budget allows for it, you can't go wrong with a Zippo lighter, and you can even get them customised!
• Resistant to the elements: Unlike survival matches and lighters, ferro rods are completely water and wind-proof. They can be submerged in water for hours and would still function the same.
• Simplicity: Unlike matches and lighters, there is absolutely no risk of a ferro rod snapping or mechanical failure. Ferro rods also last a lot longer than matches and lighters, our Stealth Fire Starter, for example, allows for 20,000 strikes. Imagine how many matches/lighter fluid you would need for 20,000 fires!
• Suitable for all climates: Like matches and lighters, ferro rods provide a reliable fire source in all climates and altitudes.
• Doesn't produce a flame: However, the only drawback with a ferro rod is that it doesn't produce a naked flame, only sparks. This just means your tinder needs a little more processing so that it catches the sparks. However, with a quality ferro rod and some practice this won't prove to be a problem in the slightest.
• Which ferro rod should I buy? As I said earlier we are slightly biased, but justifiably so! Unlike our competitors, we do not outsource our rods from larger suppliers. We have spent years developing our own unique blend of Forest Fundamentals Ferrocerium™. Our ferrocerium rods produce large showers of molten sparks. We have worked hard to develop what we believe is the perfect balance between softness and durability. Our full range of fire starters is available here. As for the specific ferro rod we recommend, it more comes down to personal preference but please view our full guide here.
• If you are a beginner using ferro rods, or simply value simplicity and ease of use we would definitely recommend checking out our Stealth Fire Starter. Our Stealth Fire Starter comes with waterproof, waxed-infused tinder wicks that produce a strong naked flame. These bad boys will burn for hours and will light your kindling right off the bat.